I met Lama Migmar few weeks ago, before the start of a workshop he held at the Calea Victoriei Foundation from Bucharest on how we can live easily and even better by bringing Buddhist concepts and practices into our lives. I was prepared to meet him with a very serious face and to do some bows with the palms put together in front oy my chest, as I had read about introducing respectfully to a Buddhist spiritual leader. I stood in front of him and introduced myself like I was trained on the internet, and got very surprised when he saluted me with an open, warm smile and greeted me with gentleness and joy. I told him that I would like to find out more about Buddhist teachings and publish our conversation on my blog and he immediately accepted to meet another day. Thus, couple of days later, we met face to face and talked over a tea about karma, impermanence, love and compassion, patience, generosity and spiritual wisdom.

I learned that he is a Buddhist lama, born in 1986 in Kathmandu, Nepal. Lama Migmar Dragpo Repa studied at one of the most prestigious Buddhist institutes – Karma Shri Nalanda Institute (Rumtek, India) – and at Sampurnanand Sanskrit University Vishwavidyalaya Varanasi. He holds the title of Master in Buddhist philosophy and the title of Master of retreat and meditation.

He came to Romania because, during last years, the Nepali community here has grown, but also because he discovered that more and more Romanians want to integrate Buddhist practices into their lives. Lama Migmar’s teachings are based on the practice of meditation and impermanence, for training the mind to stay in the present moment. With practice, people could learn to navigate through life calmer, self-aware, with a good heart, more self-controlled, living in love, compassion, generosity, patience and peace.

I had the discussion with Lama Migmar trying to find more about the Buddhist culture, I did not follow topics related to religion. I believe that his teachings and the Buddhist practices could be integrated into anyone’s life, regardless of any religion.

If we go into a deep understanding about impermanence and we accept that everything changes, then we could really be happier. Happiness, sadness, loss and death are part of our life

Lama Migmar, what is the mind and how does it operate?
The mind is the conscious and the subconscious together. Actually, the mind is the one producing greed, jealousy, hate. These are thoughts. We are not our thoughts. Thoughts are like the waves of the ocean. They come and go, but we are always trying to follow them and the subconscious mind. When we practice, we have to know that the thoughts are only thoughts and they come from the mind. When you remind yourself about the nature of your mind, you can reach a point where it doesn’t disturb your life. If we follow our „monkey mind” and our thoughts, they come over and over. Mind is restless, so we will be restless too if we follow it. Meditation helps calming the mind, so it cannot disturb our lives so much.

Do you have any teaching for people who live with a negative mind and with negative thoughts?
Negative thoughts only attract negative things in our life. This is one of the natural laws of life. If you think and talk about negative things, you attract negative things. People with negative minds need practice to get free from the negative thoughts, because they cause a lot of bad things. If you knew there was poison in the cup in front of you, would you drink it? No. If you know that negative thoughts are poisoning your mind, body and life, don’t you give them up? It’s not easy to control the „monkey mind”, you can only do that when you get to the real self. If I ask you: who are you, what do you answer?

I am Ileana.

And what are you? Body, mind, something else?

I am body and mind.

What will remain after your death? Body or mind?

The soul, I think, I don’t know.

That means you are not your body, right? You are not your mind, you are not name, either. The same with negative thoughts. You are not your thoughts, you are not your past. In Buddhism, practice helps us discover who we really are, beyond our name, our body, our thoughts, our social status. Through curiosity and question after question we go deep into ourselves and we discover who we really are, because questions make us look for answers. Staying in this kind of practice, at some point we will discover that we no longer have questions, we reached to our true selves. From there come the joy and the happiness, from inside us.

I have noticed that people from Nepal are generally happy and joyful. Is there any kind of secret for that?
People in my country live with minimum expectations, they do not live competing lives. What I’ve noticed in Europe, everywhere I have been, is that people are less and less compassionate, more selfish. „I need this, I am special”. There is a lot of competition between people. People have lots of desires, they need good cars, good houses, good salaries. In Nepal, even if they don’t have such things, people are still happy, because they have no big expectations and they live in the moment. In Nepal, people do not worry about tomorrow so much, and everybody helps the others. If one person has nothing to eat and he (she) asks for food to the neighbors, will get it. The same next day and next day, because everybody helps each other all the time.

Is this way of living something that you are taught since childhood period in Nepal?
Actually, it is our culture. Because we believe in cause and effect – Karma. When problems come in our lives, we accept them peacefully. We understand that it was in our Karma, so we have to accept whatever comes. We never blame others for what is happening to us. I’ve noticed in Romania many people blaming the others; few stop and think: „Maybe it is my fault, maybe I have done something bad in the past”. In my country, we know that problems come and go, worries come and go. We accept them.

In Romania, we tend to say that God punished us, when we face a hard situation in life.
In my culture, we believe that we are here because of our Karma, we don’t believe that God created us. If we have done some Karma in past lives, we have to be here to consume the Karma. We have to come back again in another life to do this. If we have done some bad Karma in past life, even if we don’t do anything bad in this life, we have to suffer. If we have done some good Karma in past lives, we are happy in this life. What will be in a future life, depends on what Karma we do in this one. If from our bodies and minds good deeds and actions come, these will bring good results. That is why we never blame anyone for what happens to us.

When we are happy, we want to stay like this forever. It is not possible. But when suffering comes, we want to get rid of it quickly. It is also not possible

Regardless of what our beliefs are, Lama Migmar, how can we be happier in this life? Many of us link happiness to a good job, a nice car and other possessions, a romantic relation and having children. What are your thoughts on that?
Happiness comes when we learn to have less expectations and desires. For instance, if somebody is in a relationship, he (she) expects to last for a very long time. But everything is impermanent: life, relations, power, wealth. You have them and they go. If you know this, you know that you cannot have a relationship forever. If we are born, we will die. If we meet, we will be set apart. If we understand this, we give up on expectations and live in the present moment. Happiness is also impermanent; it comes and goes. Also suffering is impermanent, does not last „forever”. When we are happy, we want to stay like this forever. It is not possible. But when suffering comes, we want to get rid of it quickly. It is also not possible. Whereas, if we know and accept that nothing is forever, when we stay in the present moment, our mind is calmer, we are happier.

Does this understanding come easier with practice?
When we practice, we do it for a precious human life. There is human life, and there is precious human life. These 2 are different because everybody has a human life, but stealing, humiliating other people, killing cannot lead us to a precious life. We say that this is human life. In order to live a precious life we need to take 10 positive actions instead of 10 negative ones.

What are those actions, positive and negative?
* Protect others life instead of killing.
* Practice generosity instead of stealing.
* Follow a discipline instead sexual misconduct.
* Tell the truth instead of lying.
* Reconcile disputes instead of divisive talk.
* Speak pleasantly instead of using harsh words.
* Recite mantras instead of having meaningless conversations.
* Be generous instead of greedy.
* Cultivate bodhicitta (awakening mind) instead of wishing harm to the others.
* Have faith on facts instead of perpetuating wrong views.
These are 10 positive and 10 negative actions.
The 4 conditions to complete karma are: object, intention, application (action) and accomplishment.

If we practice meditation, we teach ourselves to stay in the present moment, we disconnect from the thoughts, the worries. Only practicing every day, we will train the mind to do that

What else can we practice for living a precious life?
Another practice is to acknowledge the impermanence – everything is in constant motion and constant change. Nothing stays the same. We have to be aware that the life we live will not be forever. It is given to us for days, months, years, maximum let’s say 100 years, for as long as we have this body. So how could I use my limited time and body, how could I make my life meaningful? This are the questions we should ask ourselves? When we look at impermanence, we know that everything changes, everything that happens now will immediately become past. Past is gone, is never coming back in this life. Many people think a lot about the past and suffer. What is the point? You cannot go back in the past and fix things. Then, if we think about the future, does this exist? Future has not come yet. What is the point of thinking what you will do in a future that doesn’t exist?

What if I want to make a plan, to visit Nepal for instance, is this thinking in the future too?
No, this is a plan. You make a plan and then you do whatever you must to visit Nepal. You don’t think over and over about how it will be in Nepal, what you will do there, what can happen. All we have is the present, which is really few moments. If we analyze things that have passed or worry about the future, what do we miss? The present. If we let our mind run between past and future, we will face a lot of unhappiness. When our mind is all about past and future, we don’t exist in the present moment, we just analyze or worry.

How can we train the mind to stay in the present moment?
If we practice meditation, we teach ourselves to stay in the present moment, we disconnect from the thoughts, the worries. Only practicing every day, we will train the mind to do that. So, if you can be in the present moment, you can enjoy life, you can be happy. I know it is easy to say: „Stay in the present moment”. But you need practice to do that.

What if, in the present moment, my body hurts, I grieve for loosing somebody, how can I stay in present moment?
When our body hurts, it helps to stay in the present moment, to breathe, to stop the mind of creating thoughts about tomorrow that can only bring more worry. We don’t concentrate on the pain, but on breathing and relaxing. That can help also with pain. And we constantly remind ourselves that everything is impermanent. The pain will slowly go away, the suffering will pass too. We have to know that everything is impermanent, we are impermanent, our family is impermanent, joy and happiness are impermanent, grief, sadness and pain are impermanent. If we go into a deep understanding about impermanence and we accept that everything changes all the time, then we could really be happier. Happiness, sadness, loss and death are part of our life.

Death and loss are painful for many people. How could these become easier when we practice impermanence?
If the practice was easy, we would all be Buddha. (he smiles) In the real life, to stay in the present moment, to practice impermanence is very difficult, but I can tell you that people who practice every day, go through loss easier than the others. Everybody who is born will die. We are all impermanent. When it is my time to die, I will be very calm.

If you want to train the mind, if you want the mind to control your body, first you learn to control the breathing 

I notice that you are mostly cheerful and you seem like a very calm person. Does meditation help to have a calmer mind, to learn a more serene way of being and acting in everyday life?
Yes, meditation helps, but only if practiced every day. The Tibetan word for meditation is gom, which means „making a new habit”. Our mind is used to jump between past and future, but with meditation we learn to keep it in the present moment. We train our mind to calm down. There are many ways of meditation. Sitting and breathing is just one part. You breathe and don’t think about anything, but, when you come out of the meditation practice, you go back to thoughts. This is why you need to practice impermanence also, to focus on: „This will pass”. If we practice every day living with impermanence, if we train our mind over and over to live with impermanence, everything in our lives becomes easier to accept. We will suffer less, we will enjoy life more, we will be calmer and happier. Living in impermanence is a form of meditation.

What about the posture for meditation, is sitting with crossed legs the only way to practice?
There are 7 postures of meditation, but the most common is sitting in lotus position, if you can. If not, just sit. Your backbone has to be straight, because if your body is straight, your nose will be straight and the nose is connected with the air. When the body is straight, the air flows easily through the nose and when you breathe good, is easier to control your mind. If you want to train the mind, if you want the mind to control your body, first you learn to control the breathing. Breathing calms the mind and the nervous system. When you get angry, for example, you breathe fast and your nervous system is agitated. Then, the body is ready to fight. The way you breathe is affected by your emotions.
(he continues explaining the meditation practice) You sit, you don’t close your eyes, they are half closed, because if they are fully closed many images appear and distract your mind.

Lama Migmar in one meditation practice

(Lama Migmar shows me how he sits in lotus position, with his back straight, the right palm over the left one and both placed 4 fingers under the navel. He explains to me this is how each of us can find the position of our Sacral Chakra measuring 4 fingers under the navel. The elbows are not kept close to the body, but a little distanced. His chin is pulled very slightly towards his chest to avoid neck tension, mouth is slightly open, tongue resting on the palate. Eyes are open, looking at the tip of the nose, so about 45 degrees down)

(he continues explaining and I try to follow his guidance) Now, you sit straight, you concentrate on your center point that is where your Sacral Chakra is, you breathe in and out on your nose, calmly, from the belly. If you are distracted, then you are disconnected from the practice. Try to come back to breathing. You can count the breaths if you want. One full breathing is one inhale and one exhale. You can do 2-3 breathings connected to your mind and body, in the present moment. Next day you do one more. The more you practice, the harder it gets to be disconnected by the external noises. And even if you are disconnected you go back easier and easier into the meditation practice. Practicing, you learn to connect to the present moment and reconnect easier. Then, in everyday life, when your mind goes to the past or worries about the future, you bring it quickly back to the present moment and you learn to be calmer and calmer.

Besides meditation and the practice of impermanence, what other advices do you have for a healthy body and mind?
If our body is healthy, our mind is easier to control. To keep my body healthy, I practice yoga, pranayama (different breathwork techniques) because it also helps with digestion. It is very important for our health to digest what we eat. Also, I walk very much. If you are physically active, your mind is refreshed also, your nervous system calms down. You have to combine physical movement with spiritual practices. We eat well and we do physical work for the body. We meditate, we pray, we do other practices for the mind and for accumulating spiritual knowledge. This is very important, because spiritual wisdom helps us to handle every situation that comes in our life. With minimum knowledge and practice, when we face hard situations in our life, we can go easier through them. Practice meditation, practice patience.

How can we practice patience?
You just breathe and remember that everything is cause and effect – Karma. The anger is poison. So, when you know this, do you still get angry? Maybe yes, but you breathe and think that everything comes and goes, you calm down. Buddhists practice patience, that is why, when someone is mean, or nervous in traffic, we say: „Thank you, you help me practice patience”. If nobody makes me nervous, how could I practice patience? (he smiles) If we practice patience with the others, we burn a lot of bad karma. On the other side, anger burns the good karma. We, Buddhists, don’t see people who make us angry like enemies, we see them helping us to practice more.

Love is never to have, love means only to give. In love there is no anger, there is only light

How do we cultivate our wisdom?
Wisdom means knowledge. If you understand impermanence, this is wisdom. If you know about love and compassion, this is wisdom. Meditation and knowledge work together, because if you don’t have knowledge, you don’t know the level you want to reach with your practice. Then, you are just doing meditation. Meditation is the path, wisdom is the guide in your practice. Meditation is focusing on one thing, the breathing. Wisdom helps you to know how to breathe correctly. When you reach a certain level of wisdom, you understand what karma brings, what impermanence brings. In Buddhism, there are 6 perfections that we use in our practice: Generosity, Discipline, Patience, Diligence, Meditation, Wisdom.

What about love and compassion, Lama, how do we practice those?
Love and compassion are 2 different things. Love is when you wish somebody to be happy, healthy, good. Compassion means to wish somebody feeling free from suffering. For example, if somebody feels sick, you have compassion for him (her), you wish him (her) to be well soon and the suffering to end. If you want somebody to be happy, this is love, you are glad for his (her) happiness you want him (her) to be happy. This is feeling the love and compassion, and practicing them.

I understand what you mean about love. In my culture, love comes after you know somebody, when you have common values and feelings, when you care one another. How can I love somebody that I don’t have a connection with?
I don’t think what you say is love. That is attachment, is attraction. Love is never to have, love means only to give. For example, you say you love somebody, but if they don’t message you, you get angry. If they don’t say „Good morning”, you get upset. In love there is no anger, there is only light. Buddha says: „Love and Light”. If you like a flower, you don’t pull it, your water it, so it could grow. If you love somebody you just want them to be happy, to grow.

Love, as you describe it, rarely exists in our world.
Love is a feeling you have for everybody. Not only for your parents, friends, your community, people from same religion and culture, but for all the beings who have a mind and feelings. Love is a state of being in the world, wishing everybody to be happy and well. When you love somebody, you don’t hurt them, you want to see them happy. Love is love. Attachment is when you want to be with somebody, even if it doesn’t feel right, even if they don’t want to be in a relation with you. „I want” is not love. Attachment comes from ego, from desire. „I don’t care if she (he) is happy or not, I want her (him) with me, I only care about my happiness”. But happiness comes when we care about the other one too, when we give him (her) the space to be happy. It’s like Karma. If we want to be happy, we should spread happiness all around us. We don’t have the right to harm anybody, in anyway. We cannot harm other beings and expect to be happy, because there is no being – human or animal – who wants pain. Everybody looks for happiness.

“Do no harm anyone” – a rule we should follow as much as possible. But I fear that fewer and fewer people are looking at life and their relationships through such a lens.
That is why we have wars like the ones in Ukraine and Gaza, where many innocent people are killed. When a person is really bad, a murderer, a thief, and someone responds to him in the same way, he is just like that person. But it is very difficult to pay attention to this aspect when things take such a turn as a war. As much as possible, when someone says something bad to us, or hurts us, it is best to stay away, not to take revenge. In Buddhism, we understand that if we do this, we create bad karma, and we have to burn it through suffering in our next life or even in this one. If more people could practice love, compassion, patience, we would not see so many wars, but more happiness and joy.

A relationship where love and happiness exist, is a relationship where there is freedom, there is respect for each other and each respects the happiness of the other

Coming back to romantic relations, how do you teach couples to be happy?
No one should be held tight. If you try to keep someone close to you, to control them – „I don’t let him (her) go anywhere, talk to anyone else, he (she) has to be only mine, only with me” – all you do is create even more attachment. With attachment comes the suffering too.
Don’t grasp anybody. Let them be free, to do what they want, with whom they want. A relationship where love and happiness exist, is a relationship where there is freedom, there is respect for each other and each respects the happiness of the other. You know, I always hear things like these: “You should wear this. You should do that. Don’t go there, don’t talk to that one anymore”, from people in relations. This is control. It is pressure on the other. This is not love.

If we come back to love, as you talk about it – wishing someone happiness and good, without grasping – when there is love, there is also happiness in a relationship, because we are not looking to create a strong attachment there. So „the secret” to a happy couple relationship is, finally, love, right?
Ye, it is love. But I don’t want people to understand that I am saying there is no attachment at all in couple relationships, because that is not possible. What I say is that less attachment means less control, less suffering and more happiness. Here, in the Western culture, love is conditioned. „I love you if you give me this and this, if you are like this and that”. I know it is difficult to give up control and attachment, but practicing more and more, you can have less and less attachment in a relationship. Everybody wants to be happy. If I know that attachment brings suffering, then I will not create more and more attachment. Unconditional love is difficult, I know, that is why people love more their dogs and cats, because they don’t tell them what to wear, what to do. Happiness is not possible if we grasp somebody.

You started from childhood to practice impermanence, patience, being in the present moment, compassion, love, generosity. Can we start as adults too? Can we still reach a level that allows us to live better, happier?
Yes, of course. You can think of yourself as child, at the practice level. How many times a child stumbles and falls before learning to walk? But he stands up and tries again. I like to say that, to be a Buddhism practitioner does not mean to be a perfect person, but to learn how to be a good person, a generous person, a happy person. You can fall dozens of times, get up and practice more.

Thank you, Lama Migmar for all these teachings. Close to ending our conversation, what do you plan to do in Romania? I know you will be here for a while.
I like a lot Romania and I have a good connection with your country. Every time I come here, I feel like I meet my family. I discovered that people here want to learn and practice, so, whenever they need me, I will come and stay. I want to teach Romanians how to bring more love and compassion into their lives, into their relationships. I see a lot of selfishness and relationships where people don’t care about others, they only think about themselves. When they connect with me, people tell me their problems, they expect solutions from me. I don’t have solutions, I can only show a way. They need to learn what unconditional love, kindness, compassion are.
Buddhist teachings are not religious, they are teachings to live a happy life, with a good heart, living in the present moment, lowering expectations and attachments as much possible. I can show a way to live like this, but only with practice people can reach a certain level. Through practice we change our way of thinking, our way of life. (Lama stops talking and smiles, he puts his hands together in front of his chest and he continues) Practice, practice, practice: being in the present moment, being aware of impermanence, practice kindness, generosity, patience, love and compassion. There is no magic, it’s only practice.

Îți mulțumesc pentru vizită! Sper că ți-a plăcut măcar un pic ceea ce ai citit și că vei reveni! Am și alte povești despre lecții personale și căutări care pot fi ale oricui, despre oameni, locuri văzute și experiențe trăite. Toate materialele publicate aici sunt ale mele și sunt protejate de drepturi de autor. Te rog să nu preiei niciunul fără acordul meu prealabil sau fără menționarea sursei.


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